How to Build an Email List

Note: Article by Whitney Blankenship.

Your email marketing strategies are critical to your brand’s success, but they won’t take you far if you don’t have a strong email list.

This article will cover some of the most effective strategies for growing your email list organically and helping your campaigns succeed. You’ll have a much easier time achieving your email marketing goals once you have a large audience that’s highly engaged with your brand.

Why Shouldn’t I Buy Contacts?

It’s common for new ecommerce vendors to pay for email contacts, but the truth is that this is almost never worth the money. Paid leads are much less likely to care about your brand. Think about it—if you can buy them, so can every other digital marketer.

Email list management is one of the most important elements of your marketing practices, generating new leads to target via email. It takes longer to reach the same subscriber count with organic list growth, but you can be confident that every contact is interested in your content and has a good chance of becoming a customer. You won’t build your ideal list overnight, but you’ll be much closer with organic growth than you would be with paid leads.

Furthermore, buying contacts can lead to spam complaints against your sending addresses, which could result in your accounts being shut down. If you contact any users in the EU who didn’t explicitly opt in, you could even face heavy penalties under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Email Service Providers

List building is much easier with a powerful email marketing automation tool, and there are a number of robust options available at an affordable cost. Sign up for a free trial before committing to a single application—it’s important that you’re comfortable with your solution and that it provides all the features you need.

Some of the most important functions of an email marketing service include:

  • Support for multiple sign-up forms
  • Marketing analytic tools
  • Audience segmentation features
  • Marketing automation including customizable workflows

Once you’ve mastered your marketing application, you’ll be ready to start building a more effective sign-up portal and developing better email marketing practices.

Online Sign-up Options

You probably pay less attention to your sign-up portal than to the rest of your website, but it’s important to provide an easy subscription process that incentivizes new users to join your list. These are a few of the most common choices.

Sign-up Button

Sign-up buttons are one of the most common ways to add subscribers, and they’re easy to add to your Shopify site or web store. Adding a sign-up button turns first-time web visitors into regular customers and should be one of your first steps toward building an email list.

You can add another incentive by providing a discount or other exclusive offer to users who subscribe to your messaging. They’ll be more likely to add their email if they think they’re getting something in return, and a discount has the added benefit of motivating them to buy something on your store.


Compared to sign-up buttons and opt-in forms, surprise pop ups are relatively active and automatically catch your audience’s eye. You can even set them up to display based on specific triggers—for example, after the user has been on your website for a given amount of time.

Use A/B testing to compare your results with sign-up buttons against results from pop-ups (including pop-ups with different triggers). Over time, you’ll identify which one work and which can be removed from your website. Even a small increase in sign-up rate can have a major impact on your bottom line.

Landing Pages

While the previous two options are generally displayed on your home page, you can also create a targeted landing page to drive email list growth. As with pop-ups, you can provide discounts on your landing page to further incentivize signing up.

The key advantage of a landing page compared to the other two options is that it only displays sign-up content. Users are less likely to notice or act on your subscribe button if they’re looking through your website for something else.

List-building Strategies

Lead Magnets

Most of your users won’t make a purchase on their first visit to your website, and a majority of those who leave will never come back. Fortunately, you can keep more users engaged with your brand by providing an attractive lead magnet that motivates them to join your email list.

Lead magnets are resources like images, guides, and books that are limited to your email subscribers. Once they’re on your list, you’ll have the chance to re-engage them later on and capitalize on their interest in your lead magnet.


Giveaways are one of the most popular ways to add followers and email subscribers, especially on social media like Instagram and Facebook. These platforms offer incredibly low cost-per-click rates, sometimes as little as one cent. You’ll be able to drive traffic and reach new users at very little cost.

By offering a prize that aligns with your brand’s products, you ensure that everyone who enters is interested in your niche. You can also provide additional entries to people who refer others to the giveaway—social media shares will likely be responsible for a high percentage of your new leads.

Offline promotion

Most of your list building will take place online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of other opportunities. Traditional outreach methods are often just as effective, and they enable you to create meaningful one-on-one relationships with new contacts.

The easiest way to add offline growth is to keep business cards in your wallet at all business events to stay in touch with people you meet. You can also add a field for customer emails at your point-of-sale for offline transactions. Every new source of email contacts adds revenue to your business.

Building your list is one of the most important aspects of email marketing, but it can be difficult to find new contacts and drive organic growth. These ideas will help you add to your list and convert new leads into loyal customers.


Note: Article by Whitney Blankenship.

Whitney Blankenship: Content Marketing Manager for Omnisend. When not writing awesome content, Whitney is reading up on the latest in digital marketing, ecommerce, and social media trends. Obsessed with pop culture, art, and metal. Powered by coffee. Fastest Googler in the West.

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